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The Sexual Paradox: Extreme Men, Gifted Women and the Real Gender Gap

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  360 ratings  ·  60 reviews
After four decades of eradicating gender barriers at work and in public life, why do men still dominate business, politics and the most highly paid jobs? Why do high-achieving women opt out of successful careers? Psychologist Susan Pinker explores the illuminating answers to these questions in her groundbreaking first book.

In The Sexual Paradox, Susan Pinker takes a hard
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Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 26th 2008 by Random House Canada
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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Start your review of The Sexual Paradox: Extreme Men, Gifted Women and the Real Gender Gap
S
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Susan Pinker's book discusses a common problem in our society - the gender gap. Men have ruled the world for far too long. Women are now regaining their rightful place alongside men as leaders both in the office and outside the office. People are being trained on how to encourage women to enter the male-dominated fields such as Science, Techology, and Mathematics. Women want the prestige, the paycheck, and the corner office. Why aren't they flocking to these fields then? Susan Pinker's theory is ...more
Yvonne
Jun 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in sociology, neurobiology, anthropology
Recommended to Yvonne by: no one; I found it in the library
Although I am not a fan of "difference biology" about the sexes, this book makes some interesting statements about how comparing the careers of women and men is largely like comparing apples and oranges. Susan Pinker submits, with a great deal of socio-biological research, that new standards for our workplaces must take into consideration the different needs/ambitions of female workers. Considering the needs of men "standard" is fallacious, and is only continuing the disinterest of women in ...more
Jessica Draper
Aug 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Highly interesting, well-researched, surprisingly evenhanded argument that the "vanilla-male model" of human behavior doesn't work--women aren't just a variant on a standard male, and many of the persistent differences in employment, interests, and outlook come from inherent (and not bad or unfortunate) differences in how men and women are physically put together (brain studies figure prominently) and emotionally wired (so do psychological tests of empanthy, aggression, competitiveness, etc.). ...more
Cris
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting look at different capabilities and goals of boys/girls and men/women.
"Girls may be insured by having two X chromosomes, so if one is damaged or encodes deficits, girls have a spare. As many brain-related genes are located on the X, neurological traits are particularly affected. With only one X, extreme variations are more likely to show up, extremes that might have been damped down or even eliminated if a second copy of the X were in place to reduce that mutation’s
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Kaethe Douglas
Jan 13, 2012 marked it as stricken
I just don't need to read another argument about how, really, there is no sexual discrimination. I think there have been enough studies to demonstrate that everything else being equal women are considered inferior job candidates, are offered lower salaries and fewer promotions. Are there men who suffer greater disadvantages than some women? Absolutely! And here's an uncanny coincidence: they also hail from traditionally disadvantaged groups: the poor, Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans. Honestly, ...more
Alexis
Aug 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Should be read by any women interested in work and the career spectrum. The book looks at the differences between men and women in the world of work, and why some characteristics of either sex make for success or failure. This book can be very scientific, but it's quite interesting, and not particularly long.
Darcy
Jul 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I was absolutely riveted from the beginning. But then I am fascinated with any research about the brain--it is such a marvelous and complex thing.
Tara van Beurden
This is a really valuable book, and one that I related to immensely. I’m one of those stereotypical ‘career’ girls. Straight out of high school, I started a double bachelors degree in accounting and sociology, and fast tracked it by doing summer school three years in a row. Seven months before I finished I secured a job with a Big 4 accounting firm. Six years of crazy hours and a secondment to the UK, and I quit to take up a job with a major university in my city. Ten months later, and I’m about ...more
Andrea
Nov 16, 2008 rated it liked it
I like that Susan Pinker brings forward the idea that the "real gender gap" is more biological than social and cultural. She states that women today have every advantage and opportunity to succeed in a man's world than our grandmothers and great grandmothers. She also states that women are unfairly compared to the "vanilla gender assumption" that women want what men want and they must work to male standards in a male dominated world. She asks is it really fair to compare women to this standard ...more
Deborah Ruf
May 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Deborah by: I heard Pinker speak at a University of MN event.
I loved this book! Pinker gathers examples of what she calls "extreme men" in order to highlight some of the many differences between men and women. The main point of this book, I think, is to highlight the different choices that very highly talented or gifted people make with their lives and careers. I highly recommend it to my clients (who are parents of smart and gifted kids) to help them understand a common trajectory of gifted girls and women compared to gifted boys and men. Pinker's use of ...more
Tanja Berg
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism, non-fiction
Girls do better than boys at school, more girls graduate high school and college. Yet despite this, there are few top leaders that are women or earn the top dollars. This book analyses why. One reason is that although men and women, on average, are equally intelligent, the male variety is more extreme. There are more imbeciles and more geniuses among men than among women. Another reason is that there are biologically wired gender differences which causes women to choose differently. Having the ...more
Meg
Aug 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book topples a lot of others that deal with the working mother question by studying biology, brain chemistry, and what men and women typically say they want out of their careers and lives. It looks at the question from a completely different perspective - not through history, not through feminism, not through culture, but through science and facts. It definitely changed my mind on a lot of issues. I still believe women should work while raising families, but this book has shifted a lot of ...more
Liza
Nov 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
A very interesting look at an old subject in a new way. I thinks its about time someone ventured into the biological differences between the sexes, without worrying about upsetting the battle axe "feminists" who still cling to the "all men are evil oppressors" mantra.

Whether or not one agrees with the points raised in this book is another matter. But like it or not, I think its an important book to read, in order to enable a healthy discussion about our physiology and how it influences our life
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Allen
Oct 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, a really thought-provoking book. It lays out the inherant biological differences between men and women, breaking conventional wisdom (i.e. contemporary political correctness) that all men and women should want the same things in life and illustrates the drastically different responses that men and women have when presented with the EXACT same opportunities.

Also, after reading this book, I am convinced that I have Aspberger syndrome...
Katrina Sark
Apr 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Introduction: Female Puppets and Eunuchs

p.2 – As in Higgins’ song, I started to wonder about myself, my female colleagues and other women I knew, “Why do they do everything their mothers do? Why don’t they grow up like their fathers instead?”
I’d had every opportunity. In 1973, at the age of sixteen, I worked for my father. In those years he was a garment manufacturer’s agent and for two summer months we companionably drove around rural Québec in his wood-paneled station wagon, the back loaded
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Phrodrick
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Author Susan Pinker (Somehow her title as doctor is missing from the book jacket) combines the latest neuroscience with some in-depth analysis of selected high performing men (all with Asperger's) and an equal number of high performing women, none having any medically diagnosed developmental issues. Both groups in her sample (at best a sample of convenience) achieved top positions in their chosen fields. The men had either no desire or perhaps no choice but to stay at that level, the women were ...more
Adam
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A well researched and supported examination of an important issue which many seem aware of but, all considered, most people are quite wrong about. Not long ago I would have thought the ideas presented in this book to be completely against what I thought to be true. I so often hear about how culture and the patriarchy shape women's roles that I would have considered anyone thinking otherwise to be a backwards sexist dinosaur from time gone by. It turns out the truth is more nuanced.

Yes, society
...more
Jo
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, feminism
The Sexual Paradox examines the differences between men and women in the workplace. It discusses the varied characteristics that either gender may have, that then may determine how successful that individual is in their career.
Although this book was published in 2008, some of the points are still very valid and entirely thought provoking.
This book gives a sort of breakdown as to why women are not taking the same career choices as men and why many women don't take up key roles in physics or
...more
Peter Phillips
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology, gender
Nuanced and well-written, Pinker reminds the reader that biology is an issue that people ignore at their own peril.
Dea
Nov 15, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
To say up front, I did not get very far into the book. Frankly I got tired of having to read through 5+ pages for a single piece of information that caught my attention. I found myself wondering off mentally and not actually reading the book, just sounding the words out in my mind. I also did not find the book to be very well organized, it just kind of wondered around the topic every once in a while stumbling on an interesting piece of information. I also did not like the message that was coming ...more
Jaime L.
Jun 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It's a thought-provoking examination of the reasons why there aren't many women in key disciplines (engineering, physics, computer science, etc.). The author's thesis is testing the implicit assumption that men and women, given the same opportunities and being equally capable, should choose the same career paths. The fact that they don't and the possible reasons why are explored in this book. I know that some readers have criticized this book because the discussion is kept ...more
Aaron Michaux
Jul 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Picked the book up one evening at about 11pm, and didn't put it down until I finished it the next day. I was in a gender studies course, and was troubled by the nature of the course content. Every reading and class was filled with overtly moralistic armchair philosophising. After reading Pinker's book, I started asking some simple questions in class -- a process that led to unravelling the politics and ivory towers of academic feminism. My faith in feminism was shattered. By asking questions, it ...more
Sara
Apr 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Content-wise, I thought this book was great. I've personally spent 20 years feeling bad because I felt like I haven't been living up to my potential in my professional life. This book has given me a different perspective - as it turns out, I was just ahead of my time. Pinker's point is that men and women are not alike, and they often do not want the same things out of life or work. According to her, we should stop thinking of women in the workplace as slightly different versions of men. She ...more
Katie
Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a must-read for any woman who has wondered about how she, her values, her skills, and her mind-set, fits into what is still more or less a male dominated working world. It is a good book for anyone (female or male) who wonders how to attract and retain women in the workforce. Susan Pinker, a psychologist and a regular columnist in the Careers section of the Globe and Mail, writes about how learning and behavioural patterns between boys and girls evolves into success and happiness ...more
Sarah
May 15, 2010 rated it liked it
(I only read parts of this book, focusing on the bits about successful women in male-dominant professions who chose to have their careers plateau.)

This book offered a very refreshing perspective and emphasized several points that few will disagree with: that feminism was never meant to structure women's working lives' according to men's, and the goal ultimately should be to empower women to make their own choices, whatever they may be.

Although I agree that women face far fewer barriers now than
...more
C
Mar 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
As a woman who had nothing but support in studying math and then going on to study law later but who has now "opted out" to raise children, I greatly enjoyed reading a book that demonstrated how my study and work decisions are typical of 60-80 percent of females and understandable in light of average female strengths and preferences. I find it extremely irritating how much of today's feminist movement ignores the fact that I want to choose to raise my own children without being branded a traitor ...more
Denise
Dec 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I finally finished it. This book took me much longer than average to get through. Distractions were part of the reason, but I liked it so much that I wanted to absorb everything she was saying. By combining hard data and real life examples, Pinker showed that men and women make different choices. It's obvious in everyday life, but here was a breakdown of some reasons why women are not slowly making the same career choices as the opposite gender. On a personal level, it reaffirmed my own desires ...more
Melanie
Jul 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nf-economy
Although this book was published in 2008, it is still well worth the time to read today. As someone who came of age in the late 70's / early 80's, I have often wondered why there are not more women today in the higher levels of traditionally male fields. This book pulls together brain research about the difference between the sexes and the trends in the last 30 years to explain why there are not equal numbers of men and women in all fields. As an accounting field dropout, I now realize that I ...more
Brian Gee
Sep 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Really excellent book. For a non-fiction, this was probably one of the fastest reads, due to how compelling, interesting, and easy to read it was. It held my interest the whole time and had a good mix of statistical analysis and anecdotal information from interviews and stories. She did a great job bringing relevant observations and conclusions to the topic of biological sex differences, and a lot of the information felt relevant to everyday life. Highly recommended!
Rosemary
Apr 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
The sub-title says it all. The author is a child psychologist and wonders why 80% of her practice was male, but also why women, who now have no disadvantaged entry to good education, still are not in the top positions in the numbers expected by their educational level. A good way to get a summary of recent research.
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Susan Pinker is a developmental psychologist who writes about social science.